European Geoparks Network
A European Geopark is an area with a particular geological heritage and a sustainable development strategy supported by an European programme. It must have clearly defined boundaries and a sufficient areal extent to allow for true economic development. A European Geopark is an area with a special geological heritage. It must contain geological sites of special significance in terms of their scientific quality, rarity, aesthetic appeal or educational value. While the majority of heritage sites within the territory of a European Geopark must be geological, sites of archaeological, ecological, historical or cultural heritage should also be identified and promoted.

What is the European Geopark Network (EGN) ?
The network exists to provide for:
· exchange of knowledge and best practise among its members
· quality branding for sites of geological heritage across Europe
· and to work closely with local enterprises to promote and support the creation of new by-products aimed at promoting geological heritage and responsible economic development.

Following the signing of an agreement in April 2001, the network obtained a strong endorsement from UNESCO (Division of Earth Sciences), which represented a step along the road towards a UNESCO-supported Global Network of National Geoparks (established in 2004).

Current members
To date (September 2011) there are 49 territories designated as European Geoparks across Europe. For more details about these Geoparks, please visit the European Geoparks Network website.

European Geoparks in Ireland
Ireland has now (September 2011) three UNESCO endorsed European & Global Geoparks - Marble Arch Caves, Co. Fermanagh & Co. Cavan , The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare. These are community driven, EU and Local Authority funded initiatives to both conserve and use the geological resources of a discrete area to develop sustainable tourism and community life. Whilst membership of the European & Global Geoparks Network is difficult to achieve, in a few selected areas, an application could be viable.

Annual EGN Conference
The 2012 EGN annual conference will take place from the 19th to the 21st September, in Arouca Geopark, Portugal. For details and programme, see: http://www.2012egnconference.com/